Spring cleaning

From the archives.  Crocus, Spring 2009.

From the archives. Crocus, Spring 2009.

Don’t own so much clutter that you will be relieved to see your house catch fire.

~ Wendell Berry, Farming:  a hand book

Somewhere, sometime, I read something that suggested one’s outer environment is a reflection of one’s inner state of being.  If there is any truth to that, my inner state of being must have been chaotic, cluttered, disorganized, and in need of a good dusting or scrubbing.  My inner being was holding on to “fat clothes,” too.  Expansion of the inner being is no problem, but my outer being needs to let go of such things.  There is no going back.

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What’s happening around the pond

The pond reflects

Wherever you are, you are one with the clouds and one with the sun and the stars you see.  You are one with everything.  That is more true than I can say, and more true than you can hear.

~ Shunryu Suzuki

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Project Patio: We Rock

Perhaps that should be “We Stone” but “We Rock” sounds better and a little less drug-connected.

(First thing this morning)

M and I spent a good portion of our day yesterday digging and shoveling.  We took turns digging out what I think of as The Pit, where the flagstone will eventually find a home.  One of us would dig, loosening the topsoil, and the other person would shovel the loosened dirt and fling it into the wheelbarrow.  As the morning wore on there was less flinging and more straining to lift the shovelful of dirt (on my part, at least).  Under the topsoil there was the usual clay, harder to dig into and heavier to lift.

Once The Pit was dug out and leveled, it was time to shovel in the gravel.  More flinging and lifting ensued.  My exercise schedule had me down for weight training yesterday.  This fit the bill nicely.  It was much more exhausting, something I didn’t think possible given the weight workouts I’ve been subjecting myself to lately.

Before I continue (because this deserves kudos as well as extra credit), I should note that M got up at 6:00am yesterday morning and cooked a gourmet breakfast for us before turning into the Project Patio Boss.  He made a scrumptious spinach and feta frittata, and mashed-potato pancakes using leftover mashed potatoes mixed with a variety of grated veggies that included yellow squash, zucchini, and onions.  There was a good selection of fresh fruit to go with it (raspberries, cantaloupe, and cherries).  Who wouldn’t want to work for a man who delivers that sort of breakfast before starting the job?

When all was said and done with the gravel, we once again had to make sure everything was level.  Then M went over it with the heavy roller (pictured in the bottom right of the photo above).  It took the two of us to get it out of the pit, and then back up the hill towards the barn where it normally resides.  (The roller was left behind in the barn when we bought the house and property.  Lucky us.)

After the tamping (rolling), the fun.  It was time to start putting together the jigsaw puzzle.

I learned that all the weight training of the past few months have paid off.  I can and did help with the lifting of the heavier flagstones.  Neither of us was sure I’d be able to do it.  Our back-up plan was to have our oldest son come up and help.  (Note to Oldest Son if you’re reading:  We still need your help as those stones will have to be moved again.  And again.  Plus there is still the floating dock project.  Don’t forget to get some water shoes!)

The heat began to creep up on us, as did the sun.  We still have a long way to go in figuring out where to lay each piece of this big puzzle.

To the right in the above picture, on top of the brick wall, you’ll see one of the capstones for the wall.  It’s Vermont slate and the color seemed to help tie in the grays and blues in the flagstones (and the flagstones have some of the reds and rust colors that go with the brick).  I think the capstones will be the last part of the project.  Don’t quote me on that as I’m not sure.  There may well be ten other things that have to be done after the capstones are laid on top of the bricks.  I had M set one there so I could look at it since this was my first opportunity to compare and contrast and make sure it fits.

(In the afternoon sun.)

We still haven’t gone through all of the pieces of stone yet.  The stones have a way of getting heavier as time goes on, even the smaller ones.  We finally called it quits around 1:00pm when our arms had had enough of lifting.  We’ll give it another go tomorrow morning, separating the rest of the stones out from the big pile and getting a better idea of shapes and sizes and fit.

It’s officially summer

After all our hard work yesterday, we decided we had earned a treat so we took a little drive to New Baltimore where you can find some of the best ice cream ever, anywhere.

A lot of folks are searching for New Baltimore ice cream (as evidenced by the search terms bringing people to Life in the Bogs).  If you are one of those looking, let me help you out.  The original New Baltimore ice cream stand is just across the road from where Ohio State Route 44 and Pontius meet in New Baltimore (the top left of the T).  It’s the main intersection in New Baltimore, a main intersection of some kind being typical of small Ohio villages.  No real “town” area to speak of, just an intersection where there’s a park or a firehouse, a business or two, and maybe a church.

Typically, M and I start and end the ice cream season with a sundae.  It depends on the flavors available during our first and last visits as sometimes there is a flavor that is just too good to pass up.  While there were some good flavors on the board yesterday (butter pecan, for instance), nothing stood out enough for me to go against the sundae tradition so I had a butterscotch sundae (with whipped cream and a cherry on top).  M had a Nuthouse sundae which comes with salted mixed nuts and caramel.

In case the diet police are paying attention, that was our dinner.  Not exactly the usual healthy fare, but everyone deserves a treat every now and then, especially people who spend warm summer days digging and shoveling.  We had a healthier snack of hummus and vegetables later in the evening to balance things out.

I think we’re going to stay in tonight and quietly celebrate the 35th anniversary of the day we met.  We disagree on the date so this will be a half-way point, so to speak.  We met on the 3rd of July in 1975 but I can understand M’s confusion on the issue as I didn’t speak to him that day and I’m sure I blended in with a big crowd of people.  It was on the 4th of July that I said hello.  And asked him out.

We might go for a row around the pond later.  In the meantime, I think I’ll join Izzy in a little catnap.

Or go out on the porch with Bella, and read for a little while.  It’s too hot right now to do much else.

Look Up: Clouds Over Akron

M and I went to Akron yesterday evening to meet up with a friend.  On our walk from the car to the bar I spotted some rather cool looking clouds.  I would have expected the clouds to produce a storm but they didn’t.  Too bad.  We could use the rain.

Bonus photo:  The full moon.  I took this on our way home last night.  It’s not too bad when you consider I didn’t have a tripod with me and I was shooting through the car window.  I did not Photoshop this photo.  The moon really was that color.

In other news…

Project Patio continues.  M and I went shopping for stones on Thursday.  We found some beautiful Vermont slate that is cut in 12″x12″ squares.  He’ll be using that as wall caps on the brick wall he’s building around the patio.

M has just about finished digging the trench for the wall foundation and we’ll probably be mixing and pouring concrete tomorrow.

Bella (above) and Izzy (below) have already been enjoying the flagstone that will eventually be moved from a tall pile to become the patio.  It’s a nice perch for them as well as a good place to roll around and shed some fur.

(Izzy, looking up.)

I did some work in the garden this morning and found that I have a new resident:

Garden notes: Spent a few hours out in the garden today, weeding and shoveling mulch.  Put down an “anti-weed carpet” (basically sheets of black plastic) between the rows of asparagus in hopes that will keep down the weeds.  I don’t want to use herbacides (going organic out there) so I need another solution for the weed problem.

The asparagus is growing so fast now that we can almost harvest twice a day.  We’re not yet sick of eating it.  It’s yummy and much sweeter than the grocery store stuff.

The spinach is so overrun by weeds (mostly grass — it looks like I planted a lawn out there!) that I may let it go.  Other than the sweat-equity investment, all I’ll lose is a dollar and a few cents.  The lettuces are tall/big enough that I should be able to get in there and weed without harming them.

I planted Greek oregano (in a pot) and pineapple mint (near the barn where it can spread as much as it likes).  M bought a variety of tomato plants as well as some petunias.  We’ll get those planted tomorrow or Monday.

We need rain.  It might be time to start doing a rain dance.

New Windows

(Picture window, before)

(Picture window, after)

(Bella & Izzy in the upstairs window, watching the men installing the new windows)

Basement windows

(Looking out the window. Photo by Robin. November 2007)

Tomorrow we’re having some of our basement windows replaced. They’re old, metal casement windows that don’t look too bad as long as there’s no light shining on them.

Here’s what they really look like:

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